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Fifty Famous Stories Retold by  James Baldwin

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DIOGENES THE WISE MAN

[108] AT Corinth, in Greece, there lived a very wise man whose name was Diogenes. Men came from all parts of the land to see him and hear him talk.

But wise as he was, he had some very queer ways. He did not believe that any man ought to have more things than he really needed; and he said that no man needed much. And so he did not live in a house, but slept in a tub or barrel, which he rolled about from place to place. He spent his days sitting in the sun, and saying wise things to those who were around him.

At noon one day, Diogenes was seen walking through the streets with a lighted lantern, and looking all around as if in search of something.

"Why do you carry a lantern when the sun is shining?" some one said.

"I am looking for an honest man," answered Diogenes.

When Alexander the Great went to Corinth, all the foremost men in the city came out to see him and to praise him. But Diogenes did not come; and he was the only man for whose opinions Alexander cared.

And so, since the wise man wonld not come to [110] see the king, the king went to see the wise man. He found Diogenes in an out-of-the-way place, lying on the ground by his tub. He was enjoying the heat and the light of the sun.


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Diogenes and Alexander

When he saw the king and a great many people coming, he sat up and looked at Alexander. Alexander greeted him and said,—

"Diogenes, I have heard a great deal about your wisdom. Is there anything that I can do for you?"

"Yes," said Diogenes. "You can stand a little on one side, so as not to keep the sunshine from me."

This answer was so different from what he expected, that the king was much surprised. But it did not make him angry; it only made him admire the strange man all the more. When he turned to ride back, he said to his officers,—

"Say what you will; if I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."


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